• polymorphism;
  • malaria;
  • premature birth


A polymorphism in the promoter region of the tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) gene, with a guanine to adenine nucleotide change at position –308, TNF2 is associated with increased TNF-α production. TNF2 homozygotes have a higher risk of severe disease and/or death due to cerebral malaria and other infectious diseases. We investigated the impact of this allele on malaria morbidity and mortality in young children who participated in an immuno-epidemiologic cohort study of malaria in an area of intense perennial Plasmodium falciparum transmission in western Kenya. A total of 1,048 children were genotyped. Poisson regression and Cox proportional hazards models were used to determine the relationship between TNF-308 variants and morbidity and mortality. The gene frequencies of the TNF1 and TNF2 alleles were 0.90 and 0.10, respectively. TNF2 homozygosity was associated with pre-term birth when compared with TNF1 homozygotes [relative risk (RR) 7.3, 95% CI, 2.85–18.9, P = 0.002) and heterozygotes (RR 6.7, 95% CI 2.0–23.0, P = 0.008). Among children born prematurely, the TNF2 allele was significantly associated with a higher risk of death in infancy compared with TNF1 (RR 7.47, 95% CI 2.36–23.6). The risk of death was higher among TNF2 homozygotes than among heterozygotes. The TNF2 allele was significantly associated with high density P. falciparum parasitemia (RR 1.11, 95% CI 1.0–1.24). Among low birth weight children, the TNF2 allele was associated with severe anemia (RR 2.16, 95% CI 1.17–4.01) and showed a trend toward a risk for severe malaria anemia (RR 1.99, 95% CI 0.89–4.46). These data suggest that TNF2 is a risk factor for pre-term birth and early childhood mortality and malaria morbidity in children in this region. Further understanding of the pathogenic mechanisms underlying this association is required. Genet. Epidemiol. 21:201–211, 2001. © 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.